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A pioneering specialist nursery project in Wellington

When Lodi Muller of Eurafruit Nurseries surveyed the business’s blueberry nursery two years ago, he wondered whether he’d do anything differently given the chance to build it again. “Be careful what you wish for,” he says, “because within a couple of months we found out we had to relocate.” The move proved to be a good one, however, as it gave Eurafruit (and affiliated company Multicrop) the opportunity to establish two high-tech nurseries for blueberries and avocados at their new premises in Wellington.

Having built Eurafruit’s original blueberry nursery, the Vegtech Netafim team was excited to partner with them again on this complex and pioneering project which would see the creation of the first clonal avocado nursery in the Western Cape. Here’s a closer look at what it entailed.

A first for the region

What prompted Eurafruit to diversify into avocados through affiliate Multicrop? Although this in-demand fruit is usually grown further north, an increasing number of farmers are producing avocados in the Southern and Western Cape, explains Multicrop MD Scott McKenzie. By growing in the region, they’re extending the season and keeping avocados on the shelf during the September to December market slot. “We saw the opportunity to establish a nursery close to this market and supply these growers with healthy, high-quality trees.”

Project challenges and high-tech solutions

The challenge of establishing two nurseries on one premises – and growing avocado trees successfully in the Western Cape climate, which is the opposite of where they’re usually grown – brought a high level of complexity to the project. In designing the nurseries, the Vegtech Netafim team had to consider several important factors:

  • For hygiene purposes, the nurseries had to be kept entirely separate.
  • The specific needs of each crop had to be considered – for example, each nursery had different requirements for rooting and grow out facilities.
  • Given the unknowns around growing avocado plants in the Western Cape climate, there needed to be a high level of flexibility in the production environment.
  • Key to the project’s success was ensuring the teams could manage the climate in each greenhouse intensively, particularly in the avocado nursery.

In addition to poly greenhouse structures and pad and fan cooling systems, Vegtech Netafim installed a central Priva system to give the teams the flexibility and control they needed. This high-tech online platform allows for automatic climate and fertigation management in each nursery zone. For example, once a target temperature has been set, the system automatically detects any drops in temperature or humidity and manages the greenhouse climate accordingly. The same goes for fertigation inputs – the system allows the teams to meticulously manage different fertilizer mixes and application rates for each plant growth stage.

Integrating MyCrops for seamless farm management

There were additional factors to consider for the avocado nursery. One of the most important was the need for full traceability of plant material to ensure the integrity of the plant genetics and to meet phytosanitary regulations around the avocado sunblotch viroid disease. To manage their various tracking and tracing requirements without the need for much manual input, the Multicrop team opted to integrate with MyCrops’ farm management software. This lets them record and keep a keen eye on farm activity, manage inventory from seed to sale, and more. “We’ve just implemented the system, and it’s looking great; we believe it will add real value,” says Scott.

Positive outcomes and lasting benefits

“This has been a very successful project and partnership,” says Lodi. “Vegtech Netafim delivered exactly what we needed for each nursery, and we met our target timelines despite some challenging circumstances.”

After a full year of operation, the teams have already seen several positive outcomes. On the blueberry side, the first-year production cycles have been on time, the nursery is producing better quality plants, the production cycle length has decreased, and the pack out rate has increased. And on the avocado side, the team has achieved excellent graft percentages. “We’re getting a conversion rate of seed to clones in line with the top nurseries in the country in our first year,” says Scott.

Finally, one of the biggest benefits of the high-tech automated greenhouse solution, says Lodi, is that the teams can apply their efforts where they really matter – to growing healthy, high-quality plants.

Keen to know more?

If you’re interested in partnering with Vegtech Netafim on your next greenhouse nursery project, contact us on +27 21 987 6980 or You can also find out more about Multicrop at – the clonal avocado nursery is fully operational, open to customers, and able to deliver trees worldwide.